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Dubai: On September 28, India’s Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) announced that it had extended the international flight ban till October 31, 2021.

While India’s aviation authorities have been regularly posting on the extension of the international flight ban, as an expatriate Indian based in the UAE, you may be wondering what the ban means for you. Can you still travel to India, and fly back to the UAE?

Here is all you need to know….

What is the international flight ban?

On September 28, the DGCA updated its social media channels with a circular, which read: “In partial modification of circular dated June 26, 2020, the competent authority has further extended the validity of circular issued on the subject cited above regarding Scheduled International commercial passenger services to/from India till 2359 hours IST [Indian Standard Time] of October 31, 2021. This restriction shall not apply to international all-cargo operations and flights specifically approved by DGCA.”

The circular added: “However, International Scheduled flights may be allowed on selected routes by the competent authority on a case to case basis.”

How does it affect flights to and from the UAE?

While Indian authorities have put a ban on International Scheduled flights, as mentioned in the circular, there are certain flights specifically approved by the DGCA. For example, India has signed ‘Transport Bubbles’ or ‘Air Travel Arrangements’ with 28 countries, as per the website of the India’s Civil Aviation Ministry.

As per the agreement details mentioned on the website for the agreement with the UAE, Indian and UAE carriers are permitted to operate flights between India and UAE for certain categories of passengers.

For flights from the UAE to India, these categories include:

1. Indian nationals or nationals of Nepal or Bhutan stranded in UAE or in any country in South America or Africa;

2. All Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) cardholders and Person of Indian Origin (PIO) cardholders holding passports of any country; and

3. UAE nationals and foreign nationals (from any country in South America or Africa only) intending to visit India for any purpose (including their dependents on appropriate category of dependent visa) except those on Tourist Visa.

For passengers coming in from India, the UAE’s National Crisis and Emergency Management Authority (NCEMA) has announced several updates on how UAE residence visa holders can return from India. The UAE has also opened up travel to all vaccinated people, who have been vaccinated with a vaccine approved by the World Health Organisation (WHO). However, it is important to note that if you are travelling from India to the UAE, you should arrive at the airport six hours before your flight’s departure time, as passengers need to undergo a rapid Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test at the airport.